Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ben Stein Says It

My not quite favorite writer, Ben Stein, writes something in the New York Times that has been in the back of my mind in one form or another for a while now.

"When crude was skyrocketing, the beautiful people wanted to beat Exxon Mobil, Chevron and BP into a pulp. Many people assumed that oil barons controlled prices, made “obscene” profits and made life difficult for ordinary citizens. But the price of oil has fallen by more than half from just a few months ago. Gasoline prices are at levels no one thought we would ever see again.

What do you say, folks? Let’s acknowledge that we were a bit hasty. The oil companies are just corks bobbing up and down on the ocean of worldwide demand and supply, exactly as the oil companies said they were. They are not going to be starving, but they are clearly not the invincible demons that their enemies said they were. Now that we see how vulnerable they are, is there any reason to hit them with a surtax?"

Seriously. Whether you are a media talking head searching for a populist angle or a politician bottom feeding in the bad idea pool for votes, this was a terrible idea, and not based on any economic reality. I have not heard or read anyone who espoused this view admitting it now that the emperor has no clothes.

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